Judges is a lesson in Leadership
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Cycle of rebellion, hardship, repentance, redemption. Then forget and repeat the cycle.
- God became a Man in order to be the Head of the church
- Gideon was a wise ruler in many ways
- Gideon made two big mistakes
- Ear rings are stirrups for demons to ride on your head
- The prophecy of Jotham
- The eleventh judge seemed to get it right
- Samson the last judge was blind and had to die to self
- The most complex Judge was Jephthah
God became a Man in order to be the Head of the church
Only Jesus can be the Head of the church.
EPHESIANS 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church:
Satan obviously wants other humans to be the heads of the different types of churches.
CHURCH IN SMYRNA - CHURCH.AGE.BOOK CPT.4
The group that inched its way ever so slowly into the church by its DEEDS (Nicolaitanism) no longer fears exposure but is openly organized in a group of its own assembling and
is coming against the true church in undisguised hostility.
Now when I say this was an organized antichrist church I am giving you the truth from authenticated history. The first church founded in Rome (we will trace its history in the Pergamean Age) had already turned the truth of God into a lie by introducing a pagan religion with Christian names and meaning. By the second age it was so pagan (though claiming to be the true church) that Polycarp came about 1500 miles at a very old age to plead with them to turn back. They would not do it. They had a solid hierarchy and a solid organization, and a complete departure from the Word. This then, is Satan's synagogue, full of blasphemy, in which were already the seeds of the doctrine of Nicolaitanism, and which would shortly be the actual seat or power of Satanic religion.
Just as the early church started out under the pure ministry of the Holy Spirit with signs and wonders and manifestations such as prophecy, tongues, and interpretation, wisdom, knowledge and healing, so in the days of Israel when they left Egypt, they were under the leadership of the Spirit of God manifesting in gifts.
God was the leader of the people. Actually He was their King. He was a Father-King. He took care of Israel like a man cares for his family.
He fed them, fought their battles, smoothed away their difficulties and settled their problems. He just busied Himself over them. They were the only nation to which He was truly God. But one day they got to looking around,
and they saw the Philistines and other nations with kings over them.
It caught their eyes and they decided that they ought to humanize their leadership, so they wanted a king.
Now God was going to humanize the leadership Himself, in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, but they got ahead of Him.
Satan knew the plan of God so he put it in the hearts of the people to get ahead of God (the Word).
Judges showed the failure of human leadership
We cringe to see God’s people so readily forget God after he has helped them and embrace evil all over again. Each time their sin and oppression seems to get worse. They fail badly.
Joshua was a great leader. But when he died then the Jews backslid badly.
JUDGES 2:7 And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel.
JUDGES 2:10 And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.
:11 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim:
:12 And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger.
:13 And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.
:14 And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies.
:16 Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them.
:19 And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.
A judge was just a temporary solution. When he died, the Jews chased after the heathen gods that they had not wiped out when they entered the Promised Land. When we accept the Lord then we must clean up our lives. Any bad habits that we leave, like anger, temper, jealousy, or pride will just get stronger and undermine our testimony.
JUDGES 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
The big fault of Israel. They wanted to choose a human leader and do whatever suits them. The heathens had kings, so they also wanted a king.
The heathens have trinities and celebrate the birth of the sun god on 25 December. So, we also want to do that.
But neither the Israelites nor ourselves can just follow our personal opinions. Today there are 45000 different kinds of churches that are all different but all claiming to be correct. Christians claim that they can have their own personal truth. Nonsense. There is only one truth about God, the King James Bible.
Twelve judges were appointed by God.
In addition, there was one usurper, Gideon’s son Abimelech who was born outside of marriage. That made thirteen.
Thirteen is the number of rebellion.
This is mankind's biggest problem. We rebel against God's Plan as laid out in His Word. We want to do things our way.
Gideon’s son Abimelech, born out of wedlock, killed all of Gideon’s seventy sons (except the youngest son) and elevated himself. Abimelech was financially helped by his family and made himself a king for three years. But God never recognized him as a king.
We call ourselves Christians but if we are not strictly Scriptural or if we elevate ourselves above others, then God does not recognize us.
Gideon was a wise ruler in many ways
Gideon was the 6th judge. God’s ways are different from ours as God used a small army rather than a big army. With a small army of 300 men, Gideon destroyed the big host of the Midianites.
JUDGES 8:1 And the men of Ephraim said unto him, Why hast thou served us thus, that thou calledst us not, when thou wentest to fight with the Midianites? And they did chide with him sharply.
The men of Ephraim complained bitterly to Gideon that he had not called on them to help in his great victory over the Midianites.
JUDGES 8:2 And he said unto them, What have I done now in comparison of you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer?
Gideon shows great leadership. He does not boast about his great victory. But he compliments the farmers of Ephraim for producing the best grapes. Far better than Gideon had produced in his home town Ophrah in his home territory of Abiezer.
That is where the Angel appeared to Gideon and told him to fight the Midianites. Gideon built an altar on that spot.
JUDGES 6:24 Then Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD, and called it Jehovah-shalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
Gideon compliments the men of Ephraim.
JUDGES 8:3 God hath delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb: and what was I able to do in comparison of you? Then their anger was abated toward him, when he had said that.
Again, Gideon does not refer to his own great victory. He compliments the men of Ephraim for tracking down and killing the two Midian princes Oreb and Zeeb. Gideon said that he could not compare with them as he had not yet been able to track down the two Midian kings that he was looking for.
Good leadership indeed. Praising them for where they had out-performed him.
Paul summarized this attitude of preferring others.
ROMANS 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love;
in honour preferring one another;
The elders of the city of Succoth refused to give Gideon bread when his men pursued the Midian kings and his men were hungry.
JUDGES 8:7 And Gideon said, Therefore when the LORD hath delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into mine hand, then I will tear your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers.
The elders of Succoth were scared to help Gideon while the Midian kings were still alive, in case the Midian kings attacked them. That was bad leadership as they were sitting on the fence. Gideon had beaten the vast Midian host. Now he was chasing down the much smaller group of survivors. There was very little chance of that small group defeating Gideon. The lesson is that we have to be on God’s side, even if we seem to be losing.
JUDGES 8:16 And he took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth.
Gideon whipped them with branches that had thorns. If you do not help those who are serving God by destroying the false doctrine of the enemy, then you need a very painful lesson.
JUDGES 8:22 Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son's son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian.
After killing the two kings that he had chased, the Israelites realized that Gideon was a great leader. They wanted him to rule them.
But Gideon was wise. He knew God did not want one-man rulership. The Jews should be ruled by a group of elders. Preferably 70 elders.
Moses had set this original example.
NUMBERS 11:24 And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the LORD, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle.
:25 And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.
God was happy when seventy elders were chosen to help Moses govern the Jews.
At the beginning, the tribe of Judah had to fight a Canaanite king who had conquered and ruled seventy other kings.
This was a complete rejection of the example of Moses by this Canaanite king. Here you had one king dominating seventy other kings and physically crippling them.
Cutting off their thumbs meant that they could only do very limited works. Cutting their great toes meant that their walk was not very balanced. So, by conquering these 70 kings, this Canaanite king reduced them to near helplessness. Nobody can serve God effectively if they are made feeble by a dominating leader.
JUDGES 1:7 And Adonibezek said, Threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table: as I have done, so God hath requited me. And they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died.
Canaanite leadership was the totally wrong model. Their king forced 70 other kings to be in an inferior relationship to him as he wanted to dominate them.
JUDGES 1:28 And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out.
The big mistake of the Israelites is that they did not wipe out the heathen Canaanites. The mistake of Christians today is that they continue to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, swear, condone same-sex marriage, wear immodest clothes, condone abortions, and believe in unscriptural words like Trinity, Christmas, and Good Friday. You cannot establish truth if you are still allowing error.
Gideon had a great ministry as a fighter but he had no desire to promote himself nor elevate himself above others. Nor did he want his children to rule.
JUDGES 8:23 And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you.
This showed Gideon to be a very wise person.
This is a big problem in the churches today. A man builds himself up as the pastor of a church and then trains his son to be the pastor after him. This keeps the money in the family as they claim unscripturally, that the tithes belong to the pastor.
“Father and son” is a good model for a family business. But the church is not a family business. No New Testament church ever had a pastor in charge.
Gideon made two big mistakes
First, lusting after golden earrings made him hear a doctrine of self-enrichment. We call this the Prosperity Gospel.
Secondly, he concived a son Abimelech outside of marriage.
JUDGES 8:24 And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)
Earrings. These symbolize how Satan controls what people hear. People are easily fooled into only selectively hearing what they want to hear. “God wants us to prosper and be rich”. Russian President Putin and the Oligarchs in Russia have shown what a corrupting influence wealth can have on people.
People want to hear the Prosperity Gospel in order to get rich. Even a wise leader like Gideon was fooled by the chance of making money. He collected a lot of money and made a false ephod which was a copy of the High Priest’s ephod. People love to deviate away from Scripture and they easily fell into the habit of worshipping this false imitation of the truth. Today people prefer fake news to the truth. They believe that you must indulge in presents and Christmas even though the Bible never says that we must celebrate the birth of the Lord. The wise men never went to a Baby in a stable, they went to a house to see a two-year-old Child. Remember, Herod killed all the male children below the age of two years.
MATTHEW 2:11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him:
Gideon had a great ministry as a fighter. Then he became greedy and developed an unscriptural false religion. This was Gideon’s first error.
JUDGES 8:26 And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was a thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold; beside ornaments, and collars, and purple raiment that was on the kings of Midian, and beside the chains that were about their camels' necks.
Gideon got a lot of gold from all the earrings of the dead Midianites. Some people have made a lot of money by being the pastor of a church.
JUDGES 8:27 And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.
Christians also love error. When Gideon made the bad mistake of self-inventing a false item of worship, the Israelites rushed to join him in that false worship. Today we have the same problem. There are 45000 different kinds of churches, all different, that readily attract Christians.
JUDGES 8:30 And Gideon had threescore and ten sons of his body begotten: for he had many wives.
Gideon’s seventy sons should have ruled Israel after him, just like the seventy elders of Moses.
But Gideon made a second major mistake. He produced a child out of wedlock. This was the taint of original sin.
JUDGES 8:31 And his concubine that was in Shechem, she also bare him a son, whose name he called Abimelech.
Abimelech represented the wrong leadership of an ambitious man. He alone wished to rule all of Israel. As a typical one-man-ruler he set out to destroy any opposition to his rule. Thus, he destroyed 69 of the 70 sons of Gideon. Then he set himself up as an evil and illegitimate king. But he only lasted just over three years.
JUDGES 9:5 And he [Abimelech] went unto his father's house at Ophrah, and slew his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal [another name for Gideon], being threescore and ten persons, upon one stone: notwithstanding yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself.
Here the Bible says 69 were slain.
Yet the Bible also says that all 70 sons were killed.
JUDGES 9:18 And ye are risen up against my father's house this day,
and have slain his sons, threescore and ten persons,
upon one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his maidservant, king over the men of Shechem, because he is your brother;)
This is a preview of the prophecy of 70 weeks by Daniel, where a day symbolizes a year.
Laban said to Jacob.
GENESIS 29:27 Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years.
Each son of Gideon symbolized a week of this prophecy.
DANIEL 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people …
DANIEL 9:25 … unto Messiah the Prince shall be 7 weeks and 62 weeks.
7 + 62 = 69
69 weeks of years would go during which the Jewish leaders would die until Messiah came on the scene.
Messiah the Prince was when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. That was the washing of the Burnt Offering Who would suffer the torments of hell as He died for our sins.
II CHRONICLES 4:6 He made also ten lavers, and put five on the right hand, and five on the left, to wash in them: such things as they offered for the burnt offering they washed in them;
The last week or 70th week was dedicated to the ministry of Jesus.
He was supposed to have a ministry of 7 years but He was killed. Then he rose from the dead and He was alive. That is why the 70th son of Gideon, named Jotham, was described both as dead and also as alive in order to represent the death and resurrection of Jesus.
The tragedy of human leadership.
Gideon, a successful fighter for God, makes two big mistakes. With many wives and 70 children, he never knows when to stop and has an unnecessary son, Abimelech, with a concubine. This out-of-wedlock son was driven by a ruthless ambition to be the one-man-head of the Israelites. Abimelech then killed his opposition, the legal 70 sons of Gideon, to become the self-appointed king of Israel for just over 3 years. Ambition motivated this man to an insane drive for power over Israel. When a man becomes head of the church he wants no opposition, just yes-men. This represents the final Pope in the 3.5 years of great Tribulation as he makes his mad power-rush to rule the world.
God did not want a centralized king for the Jews nor a centralized head of the church. God wanted local elders to rule the local churches by staying Scriptural. Moses chose 70 elders to rule Israel. The 70 sons of Gideon should have done likewise.
Ear rings are stirrups for demons to ride on your head
Gideon collected golden earrings. Earrings require you to make a hole in your ear. That dooms you to serve as a servant or slave to a human leader.
EXODUS 21:5 And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free:
If a servant refuses to go free from his master.
EXODUS 21:6 Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.
Golden earrings showed that Gideon was now a servant to wealth. He had been a wise leader in many ways but this was his downfall.
From the gold he made a false religion.
This teaches us that people will easily corrupt their beliefs if they can thereby earn a lot of wealth.
Gideon did not want the position, power, and prestige of being a conquering king. But he was enslaved to money.
That money drove his concubine-son, Abimelech, to madness. He wanted it all.
His family members gave him 70 pieces of silver to hire bad men to kill Gideon’s 70 proper sons.
A tragic demonstration of ambition gone mad.
Abimelech resorted to deception and murder to become the sole leader. He ruled as king for just over three years but God never recognized him as a king. So much for his exaggerated sense of self-importance.
Abimelech thus represents the final man of sin, the last Pope who will rule during the 3.5 years of great Tribulation as the son of perdition, the son from hell.
Jotham, the youngest son of Gideon who represents Jesus, then gives a prophecy of the future in the form of a parable about trees, before he flees away. This represents Jesus being chased out of the churches during the church age of the Laodiceans. They make up their own religious rules whereby they demand the right to serve God their way. Jesus also prophesied of the end times.
Jotham cried out from a mountain. Jesus cried out from Mount Calvary.
A tree represents the spirit of a man.
PSALM 1:1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
:3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,
that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
Jotham gave a prophecy of human leadership, using trees as examples.
The parable of the trees. Who would be the king of the trees?
The cedars of Lebanon were naturally the biggest trees and thus the obvious source for a king if there was to be a king.
God wanted to become a Man, Emmanuel, as He was the only Man that would be fit to be King on earth. But humans were not prepared to wait for Emmanuel and wanted to choose their own king.
The olive tree speaks of the oil of the Holy Spirit. No man anointed by the Holy Spirit would want to be a king.
Grapes produce wine which speaks of the stimulation of revelation. True revelation shows the Kingship of God and the humility of man.
The fig tree represents the sweet fruits of the Spirit that humble us in the presence of Almighty God.
God expected a man to live humbly and be blessed by God for being faithful to Scripture. Man should wait patiently until Messiah would come on the scene.
But humans cannot wait. They wanted human leadership before Messiah came. This gave rise to ambitious men driven by greed and self-glory. This is represented by a bramble who is not a proper tree.
The odd-man-out in this parable is the ambitious bramble that wraps around a tree to choke it and stop the sunlight from reaching the tree. Symbolic of human leadership that puts the focus on self-gain and the elimination of any opposition to human ambition.
Just as the bramble is not a real tree, so Abimelech who was born of a concubine is a dubious choice.
Abimelech, representing the final man of sin, attacked the city of Shechem whose men fled to a tower. There Abimelech burned them to death. This represents the final Pope producing the flames of great Tribulation that burn billions to death.
But Abimelech's mother came from Shechem. So he happily destroyed his relatives in his lust for power.
But the next city also had a tower. Abimelech attacked but the city had a woman who threw a stone onto his head. A woman is a church. A man who desires to dominate as a church-head then forms the church into a human denomination which kills people spiritually. But Abimelech, the self-appointed head-ruler was struck down by a blow from a stone. Then he was killed by a sword.
Daniel saw Jesus as a Stone that strikes the world systems during great Tribulation.
Italy is in the shape of a leg. Sicily looks like the stone that smites the Gentile image in the feet.
The Word of God is also a sword that comes out of the mouth of Jesus.
REVELATION 1:16 … and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword:
The final Pope who is the final head of the churches will be destroyed by the Word that comes out of the mouth of Jesus at the battle of Armageddon.
The prophecy of Jotham
JUDGES 9:20 But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech, and devour the men of Shechem, and the house of Millo; and let fire come out from the men of Shechem, and from the house of Millo, and devour Abimelech.
Abimelech took death to the city of Shechem, but then he died when he attacked the next city. He got hit on the head with a stone. His head was bruised. Then a sword killed him.
The first prophecy in the Bible said that the seed of the woman (Jesus) would bruise the head of the serpent seed (the final Pope is the head of the false church system).
GENESIS 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
Serpent seed is the male sex cell.
Men born of sex crucified Jesus and bruised His heel. He could not walk for three days. Then he arose in the resurrection. But the head of the serpent seed had received a deadly blow. The shed blood of Jesus will conquer all sin and all sinners. The final Pope, the man of sin, who will be the head of the world will die at Armageddon.
Gideon’s refusal to be king gives a rare glimpse of the character of a man who was not motivated by the promise of position or power. It also reveals the unique leadership structure which seems to be God’s preferred model for His people. I state this in the present tense since each individual has to give account Jesus our Priest and King. Individual responsibility towards God's Word makes the Word supreme above any man. It could be said of the early Christian period, “There was no central governing structure in those days and every man did what was right according to the Word of God that was given by the admonition of the Apostles and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”
God is Our Ruler. The church must not have a human head. We must obey the written Word.
JUDGES 17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
The word “but” means they realized something was wrong in their behavior. They wanted a king which was wrong. And they did whatever they wanted to, which was also wrong.
Then time moved on.
JUDGES 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
There is no word “but” at the end of the Book of Judges. Thus, they no longer felt that there was anything wrong in their behavior.
People become hardened to sin, and no longer regard it as wrong.
There was no centralized human leader in the time of the Judges and every man answered directly to the Creator as the leader of their nation. Each person behaved according to his or her personal commitment to the covenant of obedience and faithfulness to God. This seems like a risky approach to national faithfulness and even national order but it was clearly Gideon’s understanding of the structure for governing Israel—no human king! Remember the 70 elders of Moses which was a better leadership structure. The judges had no power to tax the people, and as such, there was no organized government.
The Treachery of Selfish Ambition makes men greedy for gain.
But look at the conversation between one of Gideon’s sons, Abimelech, by a Shechemite concubine, and his maternal family. After struggling with the frustration of his ambition to become the principle leader, he asks the question of his audience and in it reveals the source of his frustration:
Speak, now, in the hearing of all the leaders of Shechem.
JUDGES 9:2 Speak, I pray you, in the ears of all the men of Shechem, Whether is better for you, either that all the sons of Jerubbaal (Gideon), which are threescore and ten persons, reign over you, or that one reign over you? remember also that I am your bone and your flesh.
His desire to achieve rulership over Gideon’s family was blocked by the fact that he was not among the “seventy sons of Gideon” since he was the child of a concubine, not the offspring of a wife. In addition, there were at least 70 options for the position vacated at Gideon’s death and all 70 were ahead of him. As long as any of these 70 sons remained alive he had no chance of becoming ruler.
Thus, he began his journey up the down path!
His appeal to the Shechemites was supported by the “flesh and bone” connection of family ties. His mother’s family provided both political and financial support that resulted in an ambush of Gideon’s sons at Ophrah wherein all 70 were murdered “on one stone” except for the youngest, Jotham, who hid himself and escaped the slaughter (Judges 9:5). The self-elevating attitude of Abimelech reveals a ruthlessness toward his brothers that brings into question the “flesh and bones” argument he used to woo the Shechemites. It was flesh of his flesh and bone of his bones whom he murdered on the rock at Ophrah.
To make it worse, Abimelech then killed the people of Shechem who had killed Gideon’s sons to make Abimelech the sole ruler of Israel.
A dominating attitude is always rooted in an exaggerated opinion of self and a marginalization of others. It opens the door for forceful behavior that engenders fear. An attitude of force knows no limits. In his bid for dominance, Abimelech’s character allowed the most extreme forms of force—deception and murder. The reward was his coronation beside the “oak of the pillar which is at Shechem” and the self-proclaimed title of king (verse 6) that God never recognized. God also never recognized a pastor as being the head of a church.
Life-Starving Leadership. The leader gets all the prestige and money. The people are starved for Bible truth as they endlessly listen to human quotes.
The bramble was a different sort of candidate. The bramble was lying in wait for an opportunity to dominate and rule. The bramble certainly has a legitimate purpose in the ecology of God’s creation, but that purpose is not attended by the prestige or public honor that is granted to the olive, the fig, the vine, or the Cedar of Lebanon. The bramble is opportunistic and voracious in its quest for dominance. It can grow as much as 3 feet on a warm summer day and has the capacity to envelop and kill trees by dominating the source of sunlight so completely that the tree starves. The bramble (regardless of species) provides no possibility of symbiotic advantage to the tree. Symbiosis means that both parties benefit from each other.
The bramble chokes the life from the tree. The tree enables the bramble to climb high.
The bramble readily accepted the offer of kingship and just as readily followed with a threat of forceful dominance. Abimelech basically said, “Yes, I will do it. In fact, if you don’t allow me to wave over you and be king, I will personally destroy you by fire.”
His eager acceptance of power and subsequent threat to any opposition indicate that dominant forceful leadership brings decay and death. The tree that is intimidated until it shelters under the bramble would never have suffered the promised fire, but it would have entered into a leadership relationship resulting in death. There are thousands of trees that appear lush green and healthy but actually stand dead beneath the leaves of the suffocating bramble vine.
Abimelech ruled Israel for just over three years (Judges 9:22) but is appropriately not remembered as Israel’s first king. He killed the people in one city but was himself killed in the second city. Jotham, who escaped into exile, does not reappear thereafter in the biblical record, but his brief appearance and the parable of the trees provides a powerful testimony and insight into the danger posed by the self-centered leader who aims at ascending to power and position via dominance.
Brambles are really tough to manage. They specialize in colonizing ecosystems such as prairies and grasslands that have been disturbed by ploughing. They are tough plants with aggressive root systems that spread quickly, grab sunlight and shade out from their competition. This is competitive Christianity. "I am better than you".
Brambles are difficult to eradicate once they have become established.
The primary management tool for brambles in natural areas is fire.
Fire is the symbol of great Tribulation.
The eleventh judge seemed to get it right
JUDGES 12:13 And after him Abdon the son of Hillel, a Pirathonite, judged Israel.
JUDGES 12:14 And he had forty sons and thirty nephews, that rode on threescore and ten ass colts: and he judged Israel eight years.
Eight speaks of a new system. God’s eternal plan.
His seventy sons and nephews fulfilled God’s plan with Moses whereby he had seventy elders to help Moses judge Israel.
Each of these men rode on an ass (what we call a donkey) colt. A young male ass or donkey.
That is a perfect symbol of Jesus riding on an ass (the mother) and on its colt (the son), interchangeably. Jesus is the truth. He rode on the mother for a while (the mother church of the first church age that was born again of the Holy Spirit) and then for a while on the colt, the son of the ass. The son represents the individuals in the last or seventh church age who are restored back to the beliefs of the early apostles.
The truth was present in the first church age that was guided by the apostolic fathers. The truth has to be restored in the last church age by the children that turn to the apostolic fathers.
An ass (or donkey) represents the truth being carried in as it was an ass and her colt which carried Jesus, the Word, on that famous Palm Sunday ride.
The seventy ass colts represent the end of the seventh church age when the children are restored to the original truth of the first church age.
Samson the last judge was blind and had to die to self
Samson was the last or twelfth judge.
By coming at the end as an individual, Samson is a preview of the seventh or last church age of the Laodiceans (believers in people’s rights) who feel that they can do whatever they want to do. Jesus stands outside the last church but appeals to any individual within. He spews the church out of His mouth but seeks to reveal the mysteries of His Word to individuals. Samson represents individuals at the end time, however strong or talented they may be. He was the world’s strongest man but he was broken by his lust for the wrong woman, who represents the church. A lesson to us all. It is easy for a woman-church to destroy the man who loves her. The woman caused Samson to become blind. So, never trust your church. Thus, Samson represents the failure of human leadership as he could not even protect himself from the wiles of a scheming woman who represents the church. The church has more of a hold on the people than the Bible has.
The church only listens to the preachers who tell them what they want to hear.
In the end, the church pretends to offer redemption but is actually the source of deception and misinformation. But when Samson pulled down the pillars that destroyed the building that he was trapped in, he killed more of the enemy in his death than what he killed in his life.
This teaches us the basic lesson on how to serve God at the end. We serve God best when we die to ourselves, not when we elevate ourselves or our church.
God does not want the clever message-doctrines that are built on selected quotes. God wants us to return back to the beliefs of the New Testament church that was established by the apostles.
Message preachers claim that, “Brother Branham is the Voice of God. Brother Branham’s quotes are infallible”.
These are two pillars of the message-groups that we need to pull down.
The most complex Judge was Jephthah
Jephthah was the eighth judge. Eight speaks of a new system. Jephthah’s story touches on some very deep issues that people fail to understand concerning Christ and the early church of the New Testament.
His very unusual vow and its repercussions seem meaningless until we realize that it is all a preview of Christ and the early church in the first two church ages.
If the 7-branched candlestick of the Jewish Tabernacle represents the seven church ages then Jesus is only seen in the middle candlestick. That represents the apostolic church of the New Testament.
REVELATION 1:13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man,
REVELATION 1:17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
Seeing Jesus in the first church age made John fall down as dead. This symbolized the horrific hatred that the pagan Romans had for the true believers and the blood-lust that made them want to kill the early Christians.
REVELATION 1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
The first two church ages were influenced by the Spirit of the lion that made believers stick to the doctrines of the apostles in the face of death.
The lion represented the Lion of the tribe of Judah. That is Jesus Christ Who is the Word of God.
The pagan Roman emperors unleashed ten massive persecutions against the Christians between AD 64 and AD 312. That time of being influenced by the Lion of the true Word is known as the first two church ages of Ephesus and Smyrna.
Some historians claim that three million Christians were martyred during those years.
But Jesus said that He was the first martyr. He died and He rose again and that is the promise that He holds out for every other martyr.
Jesus will be with the church until the last martyr has been killed.
So, the killing of Christians began with the early church when that most vicious and depraved Roman emperor called Nero unleashed the first persecution in AD 64 which killed some of the apostles. These were God’s own precious born-again children who were being killed. But it had to be. The blood of the martyrs was the costly fertilizer that allowed the precious Seed of God’s Word to flourish.
When the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, he vowed an extreme vow to offer up one of his family, whoever first came out of his house. (His animals lived in a stable, not in his house). Jephthah was prepared to see a precious member of his family killed in order to defeat the enemy. So great was his desire to destroy the enemy who was trying to rob the Jews of their God-given inheritance in the Promised Land. This symbolizes the great cost that it will take, the great price that must be paid to destroy Satan.
The Spirit of the Lord was on Jephthah, so this was not a bad vow.
Jephthah represents Jesus Christ, the One who wins the victory over the enemy, Satan. But that victory over sin would come at a terrible price. First, Jesus had to pay with unimaginable suffering on the cross. A law of nature states that when a seed is planted, it must first die before it germinates into new life. So the early church also had to die.
Victory required great loss, and the story of Jephthah makes us aware of the price and cost of victory.
JUDGES 11:34 And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter.
His daughter, as a woman, represents the early church. There is only one early church, the church of the New Testament that was established by the apostles.
Jephtah tore up his clothes to express his grief that his daughter must die.
The clothes of Jesus got torn up by the four Roman guards who stood around the cross. This was an expression of extreme grief as He suffered. But His grief was for His church, not for Himself.
JUDGES 11:35 And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back.
Jephthah had won the victory, but at great personal cost.
JOHN 19:23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part;
Jesus won the victory at Calvary, but it was also at great personal cost.
Jepthah’s daughter now showed the incredible faith of the early church. Whatever it is in God’s Will that must happen to me, let it happen.
JUDGES 11:36 And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the LORD, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the LORD hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon.
This young woman represented the young Christian church that was just beginning to grow under the guidance of the apostles. Whatever savage persecution and rejection they had to face from the vicious pagan Romans, they went to their early deaths with total faith in the Plan of God for their lives.
ROMANS 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Their love for God was greater than their fear of suffering and death.
JUDGES 11:37 And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows.
A virgin is a clean woman, representing the Blood-washed early church that had been cleansed of sin and unbelief.
Bewail her virginity. Only the first church would have that complete faith in the true Word of God. After that, there would always be different degrees of error circulating amongst the churches as men became the head of the church and introduced wrong doctrines. Those who stayed strictly with the Scriptures would be vilified, rejected, and persecuted by the compromised churches. Virginity is pure. Those who stayed purely with the written Word would get hammered and attacked and killed.
This would be a special problem in the seventh church age where preachers would guide the churches into a state of Bible-illiteracy that causes Jesus, as the Word, to be outside the church.
II CORINTHIANS 11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
The early church was the spiritual virgin, who only believed the written Scriptures of the apostles. But that early church had to die for her faith. Three million were killed but they died cruel deaths rather than deny their faith.
Two months in the mountains.
Daniel saw the 1000 years of the Millennium as a mountain, a kingdom. A mountain represents a kingdom.
DANIEL 2:35 … and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
DANIEL 2:44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed:
The Roman Catholic church is seen as a woman sitting on a beast that has seven heads, which represent seven mountains or kingdoms.
REVELATION 17:9 And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.
The Roman Catholic church is the only institution that has been present in all seven church ages, as they claim that Peter was the first Pope.
Matthew Chapter 13 introduces the seven church ages as seven parables of the kingdom of heaven.
Each church age had a mountain of difficulties and unbelief that the church of that age had to climb.
On Roman coins the goddess of the city of Rome was Roma, and they pictured her sitting on the seven hills of Rome.
S C meant “Senatus Consultum”, whose meaning in English is “By Decree of the Senate”.
JUDGES 11:38 And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains.
Two months on the mountains represents the early church that was still a chaste virgin to Christ under the influence of the Lion of the tribe of Judah Spirit, thanks to the influence of the apostles.
The apostolic Scriptural influence lasted for two church ages, symbolized by the two months.
In the third church age, at the Council of Nicaea in AD 325, the church accepted the political interference of the Roman emperor Constantine. They added unscriptural expressions like “Trinity”, “Father and Son are of the same substance”, “God the Son”, “Christmas”, “25 December”, “Bishop of Rome”, etc. and the truth got lost in the next two church ages of the Ox Spirit, the beast of slaughter when tens of millions of Christians were killed in the Dark Ages by the Roman Catholic church.
JUDGES 11:39 And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel,
The daughter, representing the early church, was obedient unto death and never questioned God the Father’s Will for her life.
JUDGES 11:40 That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.
Death, suffering, and disaster has been throughout the history of the early church.
What does the “four” tell us?
The throne of God in Heaven is surrounded by four beasts in Revelation Chapter 4.
REVELATION 4:6 ... and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
:7 And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.
God has built up His spiritual church over 2000 years, using His saints as living stones. Each of these beasts controlled two church ages.
The time of a person’s birth predestinates them to which age they are to serve God.
Only in the Lion age of truth could they be Virgins dedicated to the Word of God. After that, the Trinity doctrine corrupted Bible truth and the churches were run by dominating one-man-church-heads.
The four days in the year represented the four beasts around the throne.
“Your lot” means what life has in store for you which is beyond your control. You cannot decide which church age you are to be born in.
Each beast controlled the lot or fate of the people of that specific time.
Jephthah’s daughter’s lot was to be the “first” person to come out of the house. A woman representing the first church age. They obeyed God’s Word.
JOHN 12:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.
The first seed of God’s Word had to die and be buried in the dirt of the Dark Ages before it could spring to life as the leaves in the great Reformation of Martin Luther's fifth church age that started around 1520. People repented and got saved by grace through faith.
Then John Wesley in England restored holiness and outreach which led to the great missionary age of the 6th church age when the tassles formed and the pollen blew over the field.
So, each saint is born in a certain time period of God’s great Plan and has to be subject to that Plan.
The last seed can only be harvested when it is the same as the first seed that was planted.
We are in the eagle age and have no option but to be restored back to the original seed of the apostolic first church age. Only then can we be harvested, or pulled off the plant. We have no choice in this matter if we want to serve God.
So, the eagle-beast covers the seventh and the first church age.
The eagle pulls us out of the churches of the seventh church age and restores us to the pattern of local churches that are run by local elders. This pattern was established in the New Testament churches. That is how churches were run under the Lion-Spirit. No New Testament church ever had a pastor in charge.